After riding the Alexis Serna wave the past four years, Oregon State will have to break in a new kicker this year. That's probably the biggest news item regarding the Special Teams unit, along with the fact that Oregon State is looking to find a punter who can do more than an average of 35.4 yards per punt. By position:
- Kicker: Oregon State has been grooming Justin Kahut to kick the past few years, as he watched and learned behind 2005 Groza winner and All-American Alexis Serna in 2006 and 2007. Kahut was our guest on Building the Dam two weeks ago, and discussed such things as his summer, what learning from Alexis was like, and how he became a kicker. Justin has been bothered by a groin injury sporadically throughout fall camp. He says the injury is more like a nagging pain that comes and goes, but is occurring because he wasn't in shape coming into camp. "During the summer we'd kick three days in a row, instead of seven like we've done in camp. I overdid it at the start. I should have upped it at the end of the summer". As far as we know, Kahut is recovered and ready to kick against Stanford. Matt Barker will be the backup, and could be used as some sort of kickoff specialist at some point.
- Punter: Johnny Hekker has won the job over Sean Sehnem and Ryan Allen. Hekker was a quarterback in high school, and Riley likes him because of his consistency and all around athleticism. Sehnem will be the backup, and Allen plans to redshirt. Is Hekker the next Paulescu? Who knows. We'll see how this experiment goes.
- Punt Returner: Sammie will be the starter, hoping to return to 2006 form. Taylor Kavanaugh, who averaged 6.9 per return last year, will be the backup.
- Holder: Ocho Quatro, baby.
Snapper: True freshman Marcus Perry emerged from fall camp as #1 on the depth chart, and that's all we need to know until the first bad snap.
- Kick Returner: Lots of talent here. James Rodgers is the only person who has been solidified throughout camp. It looks like junior Patrick Henderson (1 return for 11 yards last year) will join him, but we could also see a Rodgers-Rodgers duo at times. The beat writers found out this week that James went by "Quan" in high school, so having both Quizz and Quan on the field at the same time will forever be called playing "Q-ball". Even though the thought of Quizz and Quan returning kicks excites us, remember that they both will be integral parts of the offense. We especially don't want to empty Jacqiuzz's tank his freshman year.
- Other Special Teams notes: Reserve cornerback and special teams player James Dockery hurt his knee last week lifting weights, and will have his knee scoped immediately. He'll be out for a few weeks. His absence may open the door for someone like Casey Kjos or Damola Adeniji.